Out in the line-up: Surfing and homosexuality

SanDiegoGroup-BlacksGreat initative for a documentary. Respect. I love projects like this. Surfing needs them. Check out the website here.

The one thing that unites all surfers is their love of the waves. Yet within the surfing community there have often been lines of distinction: based on skill, gender and even sexual identity. Some gay surfers have struggled with discrimination, homophobia and the fear of losing jobs, friends and family, while others have been able to confidently paddle out into the line-up. With the growth of social media, previously isolated gay surfers are now able to connect to others from all around the planet.

We’re currently at a turning point in our social perception about homosexuality. In the sports world some leading athletes have already come “out”: Gareth Thomas – Rugby, John Amaechi – NBA, Jason Ball – AFL, Amelie Mauresmo – Tennis, Matthew Mitchum – Diving, Megan Rapinoe – Soccer and more recently Puerto Rican boxer Orlando Cruz and Kevin McClatchy in Baseball. Support for emerging gay athletes (and against homophobia) has been demonstrated by straight athletes such as Michael Irvin in NFL, the Dutch soccer administration and Ben Cohen in Rugby.

The acknowledgment of a gay presence in surfing seems long overdue.

Why are there no “out” gay male surfers on the pro-surfing tour?

What pressures do gay women experience in getting sponsorship?

Can surfing culture create a positive and inclusive environment that minority groups, such as gay surfers, can feel part of?

Are sport sponsors in tune with changing social attitudes?

Has the new generation of surfers moved on from the homophobic attitudes of the past?

And what are their hopes for the future?”

A film team follows Thomas, the founder of the world’s first website for gay surfers, as he visits fellow surfers in the US, Australia and Brazil. He speaks to pro-surfers, psychologists, media specialists and sponsors about the issues around homosexuality in surfing.

Interviews are mixed with anecdotes, observational and archival footage. Scenic locations and dynamic surfing footage is underscored with modern and emotive music. The documentary communicates the beauty and connection with the ocean and natural elements. A mixture of high energy and slow-motion footage creates emotion and engagement.

Out in the Line-Up overturns clichés and breaks down stereotypes. It makes gay surfers visible for the first time. As an unseen part of surfing and gay culture they were without a voice, without a place in the line-up and without role models.

This film brings many, until now, untold personal stories to the public eye. It allows for reflection and interpretation. It creates space for discussion about equality – in order to challenge limited thinking and stereotypes. It reaches out to an up-coming generation where open-mindedness, diversity and acceptance can become positive social values.